Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

This tasty recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis and is perfect for summer, all you need is a food processor. We usually cook up some penne pasta and top with this pesto, its delicious served warm or cold.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Recipe from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 (8.5 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil 

1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

In a food processor, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil with the basil and garlic until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl, and stir in the cheese and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Season the pesto with more salt, pepper and oil to taste.  This pesto will last for 1 week if stored in an airtight container. 

Bon appetit!

Pizzeria Bianco

One of my happiest pizza memories was at Pizzeria Bianco, in Phoenix Arizona. The crust was thin, crisp, charred and full of flavor. The toppings were fresh, simple, locally grown and delicious. They even make their own mozzarella each morning. Chris Bianco, is the man behind this pizza phenomenon. He has been proclaimed "America's premier pizza maker" by the New York Times, and is a James Beard Award winner.

My boyfriend had an audition in Scottsdale, Arizona for the Golf Channel, so I went along for the ride. Arizona is about a 5 hour drive from where we live in Los Angeles. A friend of mine heard I was going and she told me about a restaurant that was rumored to have "the best pizza in the country". In Arizona?

We went on a Monday for lunch. Fortunately we arrived 20 minutes before they opened, because as we walked up to the restaurant, there was a crowd already forming. The air had a distinct energy of excitement as everyone was quietly awaiting the opening. Apparently Chris Bianco has a cult like following. We were seated in the first rotation. I felt a little bad for the people who arrived after us because there is limited seating.

The inside of Pizzeria Bianco is quite small, but has wonderful rustic charm. Brick walls, high ceilings, warm tones and many windows. The main focus of the room is this incredible wood burning brick oven.

We are vegetarians, so we ordered a margarita pizza and added wood roasted mushrooms. It was amazing. We also ordered local organic greens with a red wine vinaigrette that was fresh and lively. It was the perfect balance to our pizza. Simple, pure and delicious. Even the olive oil for the bread was fantastic.

There are three other Bianco restaurants in the Phoenix area. Trattoria Bianco, Pane Bianco and Bar Bianco. A second Pizzeria Bianco location just opened in Phoenix and another is opening this winter in Tucson. Arizona you are so lucky! Here is the website 

Bianco has also teamed up with Britain's celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to launch Union Jacks in London Their concept is wood-fired pizzas with British toppings.

For those of you who cannot make it to Arizona to experience my favorite pizza, Chris Bianco is working on a cookbook, Pizzeria Bianco, which is scheduled to release this fall.